In a bid to boost growth at the youth level, Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore announced monetary benefits for coaches at the grassroots level. Incentives will not be restricted to just medal-winning athletes and coaches, as the government has extended the benefit to all grassroots level coaches.
For a long time now, cash incentives have been restricted to athletes and coaches who do the nation proud by collecting medals and honours at the national and international level. No doubt they deserve the credit and appreciation for their hard work, but something that fans often tend to forget is that such athletes often have been trained since a very young age by a number of coaches.
Their success is a direct result of the training they tend to receive at a grassroots level. However, as the athletes are deservedly compensated for their victorious exploits, their grassroots coaches sadly tend to go unnoticed. But all this is set to change immediately as the government has announced monetary incentives to grassroots level coaches from now onwards.
Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore made the announcement during the launch of the official anthem and mascot of Khelo India School Games, beginning January 31.
"Now when an athlete wins a medal at Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Olympics, the coach gets the incentive. We will be changing that. Now 20 percent of the total money will also go to the coaches who worked on them at the grass-root level and 30 percent will be given to the developmental coaches," Rathore said in his speech.
"It is not a question of money but it is a matter of recognition. The execution will be a slow process. We will create a database of the coaches of the athletes who are associated with Khelo India. So when one of these athletes goes on to win a medal in the international event, the coaches can also be recognised."
The Sports Ministry had already decided to select 1000 athletes every year under the ‘Khelo India’ School Games for a scholarship of Rs 5 lakhs each for eight successive years.
"In five years, we will have 5000 athletes getting the scholarship and it will help to bridge the gap between potential to the podium," he added.
"Now 17 years may not be the right age to start as by that time one should reach the international level. So we will slowly take the selection age down to 12 years so that at 20, they can compete at the highest level.
"Even now we win medals but there is no second string, no backup. So we want to create the bench strength so that at least 50 athletes are waiting to take up the place. A movement has started and we want to provide all support to these kids right from the young age." Rathore said.
Rathore, who himself clinched silver at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, said a greater Onus would be put on coaches as their dedication will bear fruit in the form of the performance of the youth.
"We'll get into tie-ups with international institutes to upgrade the knowledge of the coaches. We will create a bank of coaches, where people who consider themselves to be coaches can register and upgrade their knowledge. We will have 2-3 week classes for the coaches and they will also get a certificate for a central agency." said Rathore.
Rathore also said ‘Khelo India’ Games will focus on women-oriented sports and try to run a campaign to encourage women to come out and play more sports.
"I think 2018 will be the year of sports and our focus will also be on women-oriented sports. If women start playing sports then there will be a generational shift and I think we should take it up as a campaign," he added.